Village of New Paltz trustees are bracing for an admonition to stay in their own lane, but they feel justified approving a position statement opposing a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (Pilot) plan for The Kingstonian, a proposed mostly market-rate mixed-use project in the uptown part of the county seat that will be anchored by high-end apartments and a parking garage. Pilots, the New Paltz board felt, were generally a bad deal that impacted all county taxpayers especially because of an inequitable agreement between the county government and the municipalities on the distribution of sales taxes.
The village wants the Kingston Common Council, the county legislature, and the Kingston school board to be mindful of the other neighboring 23 municipalities. “We all contribute and must continue to work together to generate sales-tax revenue for our county’s approximately 180,000 residents,” New Paltz village government said. “Kingston should not unilaterally forfeit property-tax revenues via Pilot schemes while municipalities like the town and village of New Paltz, as well as high-need places like the village of Ellenville, are expected to provide more than their fair share of county sales tax.”
“We will oppose any Pilots until this is worked out,” said mayor Tim Rogers, because the sales-tax agreement “intertwines us” in ways against which village leaders have no legal protection. The trustees support high-need areas like Kingston getting a higher share of revenue from the sales tax, but say that the current revenue split among governments makes this particular deal a bad one.
The board also felt that placing parking in an urban center rather than on its periphery was not in keeping with current best practices in urban planning. “People do not go to places for parking,” said deputy mayor KT Tobin. “They do for amenities.”
One of the two county legislators representing New Paltz residents briefed local lawmakers on relevant legislation. Eve Walter was specifically pressed on the question of sales-tax sharing. In New York, half the eight percent sales tax collected goes to county government, but leaders of cities may choose to take their own share directly. Ulster County and Kingston officials have worked out a deal which sends 11.5 percent of the total take to the city. Three percent is shared among those 23 municipalities. Deputy mayor KT Tobin opined that the county share — 85.5 percent — was unusually high in the state.
Walter was questioned about two proposals. One would reduce the next city-county agreement to one year from five in acknowledgment of the uncertainty brought by the pandemic, and the other would create a high-water mark above which the revenue would be shared differently among the governments. Tobin was clear about the intent. She said she wanted to reduce the county share rather than take funds from Kingston.
The New Paltz legislator said that county executive Pat Ryan has resisted reducing the county share, and that town supervisors have privately opposed shortening the term out of fear that a renegotiated agreement could result in even less revenue going to towns and villages. In a year in which all levels of government find their revenues under more duress, none is enthusiastic about giving up any of its share.
Village mayor Tim Rogers, who has been part of the discussions as a member of the Association of Supervisors and Mayors, expressed skepticism that the municipalities could lose out in a renegotiation. He said Kingston would receive less money if it was collecting the portion within city limits rather than taking a negotiated piece of the larger county share.